Making an assessment part 1, by Travis Sharpe

 Chris Parker


When I meet a new person in our ministry, someone who is homeless and comes to us for help, I want to make an assessment of their situation in order to better serve them. It is important to note that an assessment is not a judgment. It should be an honest view of a given set of circumstances.

We must be able to use wisdom and discernment apart from judgment. What I mean by that is the assessment is a gathering of information so I can make informed decisions. It is not me gathering a bunch of reasons to not love the person.
Your initial meeting with someone is critical. They need to sense that you genuinely care about them and that you are there to help. You must be intentional about this and take steps to make sure your meeting is not all about a “hand out.”
So, with that in mind, I want to give you four principles that I use when making my initial assessment.
1. Be relational, not transactional. Because we want to help so many people, we sometimes have a tendency to treat helping someone like a transaction. It’s easy to be like Joe Friday on Dragnet and ask for “Just the facts, ma’am!” We should be there for more than “than facts”, we should be there to come alongside our new friend and help to bear their burdens.
Just treat them like you would want to be treated. Love them. They are a real person with real feelings and real needs.
2. Listen. I cannot stress this enough. How can we find out about someone if we don’t listen to them. The problem with most people who try to help the homeless is that they feel like they know everything. Like they have all the answers. While in reality, You have never been in their shoes! You don’t know what it’s like to be them.
The best tactic is to just shut up and listen! Nothing says you care like listening does. While you listen, focus on them. Make eye contact. Don’t fiddle with you phone. Don’t look away. Let what they are saying fall on your ears with distraction.
3. Take your time. There is no need to rush. This is a person, not a number! So slow down and enjoy the time of getting to know them. Admittedly, there will be some people who are difficult to understand. Some who are mentally ill and talk in circles or whose speech just doesn’t make sense.
But regardless, take your time and be thorough. A good way to do this is over a cup of coffee or a meal. You might be their angel that day. Your time and attention could literally change their life. It could cause them to once again believe that someone does care about them. Rushing through a process will have the opposite effect.
4. Don’t make promises. Sometimes I want to fix everything right away. I want to be the answer. So I have to take measures to prevent myself from going too far and making promises I can’t keep. The problem is that if I, in my haste, make promises, I might find out later that I cannot fulfill them.
And a broken promise is bad news. No one will take us serious when we don’t keep our word.
Follow these simple principles as you meet people for the first time and it will bless both them and you. Do you have something to add? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. 
Note: This was taken from my Good Samaritan course. For more information on the course click here.